Sometimes you stumble across some odd stuff on the internet. This was one of those times.
It was 2:17 a.m. and I was, unfortunately, wide awake. I climbed out of bed, pulled on my pants, walked out to the living room, sat down in my favorite easy chair, opened up my iPad, and started surfing the web. (Is that still current terminology?) Eventually, I ended up on Zillow.com where just for fun I typed in the address of our home in Texas. Photos of our home were stacked up along the left side of the page. The second image said “Street View.” I wondered what it might show, so I clicked on it.
Street View is a Google product and this is how the company describes it: “Street View stitches together billions of panoramic images to provide a virtual representation of our surroundings on Google Maps. Street View’s content comes from two sources – Google and contributors. Through our collective efforts, we enable people everywhere to virtually explore the world.”
You can use it for something as simple as looking up your own home and neighborhood to exploring far more exotic locations. For example, you can use it to take a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris, or to explore the ancient temples of Machu Picchu, or to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan with a professional rock climber. You can even go back in time to see what any given location looked like in the past. It’s an amazing tool.
But as I said, I used it to look up our home.
Instead of showing the front of our home, which sits at the corner of our address street and an alley, Street View showed it from the alley. The view from that direction consists primarily of an 8-foot tall wooden fence and the tops of three trees that hide all but a merest glimpse of our home. (Photo above)
See the arrows in the middle of the fence? If you’re on an iPad as I am, Google Streetview allows you to take in a 360 degree view by dragging the arrows with your finger.
I decided to drag the Streetview arrow to the right just to take a look at our carport. I wondered if we were home when the GoogleMobile drove by? Would either our cars be in the carport? Both of them? Neither of them?
What I did not expect to see was Jamie and me standing in the alley. Here’s that photo.
In the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”
I don’t remember the incident but Jamie does. She reminded me that we were out there talking to a contractor about a drainage issue at the rear of our house. She said we both noticed the Google Streetview car drive by while we were standing in the alley, but neither of us had any idea that it was actually shooting footage as it rolled past.
Have you ever seen the Google Streetview team driving around your neighborhood? Just for future reference, here’s what the Streetview cars look like.
UPDATE: It suddenly occurred to me that Street View must have taken a shot of our neighbor’s house as the same time it took a photo of ours. So I looked up her address to find out what Street View looked like from that vantage point. Turns out that the GoogleMobile came down the alley right past us and we turned to wave. Pretty funny. You can even see the contractor in this shot.
We were far from being the first people to be caught by Google’s cameras. In fact, they have snapped photos of lots of unusual things as they cover the world’s highways and byways. Here are a just a few of the odd things caught by Google’s cameras:
A male sitting on a mail box.
Not exactly father of the year: A man shooting an apple off his son’s head.
Look closely just to the left of the tall grass: That’s a gator waiting for dinner.
A Norwegian reindeer racing down a road right in front of the GoogleMobile.
Perfect timing: A motorcyclist popped a wheelie just as the Google Street View car drove past.
A boy who appears to be running for his life and another boy on a horse in hot pursuit.
I’d love to know the story behind this one: A man on an old-fashioned bicycle towing a baby carriage that appears to contain a monkey.
A rabbit setting the world record for the lapin high jump.
Wouldn’t you love to know why a naked man is crawling around in the trunk of his car?